BBC BLOGS - See Also
« Previous | Main | Next »

Daily View: BP's day at Congress

Clare Spencer | 09:47 UK time, Friday, 18 June 2010

Commentators relive BP chief executive Tony Hayward's time explaining the oil spill to Congress and the apology given to him.

Rupert Cornwell from the Independent says the event highlights how Congress has changed over the century:

BP chief executive Tony Hayward

"Once they were not only riveting political theatre but events that could turn US history. In 1954, hearings destroyed the reputation of the malign Senator Joseph McCarthy. The televised Watergate hearings of 1973 and 1974 helped bring down Richard Nixon, and the Iran-Contra hearings of 1987 almost did the same to Ronald Reagan. That rarely happens now...
"That became clear at the outset, when the senior Republican on the House Commerce and Energy panel turned his fire not on BP but on the Democratic administration of Barack Obama, accusing it of a '$20bn shakedown' by forcing BP to set up a compensation fund for victims of the spill. The disaster is thus a subplot of November's Congressional mid-term elections."

In the Washington Post Greg Sargent argues that Congressman Joe Barton's apology to BP has handed the White House an easy way to change the subject:

"Until today Republicans had been confident that Dems would be hard pressed to make the story about anything other than the president and his impotence. But Barton's gaffe has given the White House its best opening yet to use the spill to make the global case against the GOP and ensure that its approach to governance is part of the national conversation about the disaster."

The Hot Air blog points out that no-one will accuse Joe Barton of following the whims of political opinion:

"If Barton wanted to keep heat on the White House over its interactions with BP, this is a poor way of going about it. BP doesn't require any apologies at the moment, at least not until we know what happened. There may well be some serious questions about federal overreach and interference with the due process of claims after the establishment of this fund, but it's a little overdramatic to claim that BP didn't get due process in creating the escrow account. They surrendered on that point without bothering to fight. Plenty of lawsuits and even criminal charges get settled without going to court when both parties agree on a settlement, usually one produced under some kind of duress to one or both parties."

In the American Spectator Ross Kaminsky says an apology for President Obama's behaviour was warranted:

"I am rarely at a loss for words, but I was briefly stunned into silence by Barack Obama's words during his Tuesday night speech that he would 'inform' BP's CEO that he 'is to' create an escrow account. The president has no authority to do such a thing - but neither did he have authority to cram down Chrysler and GM bond holders for the benefit of the UAW. Law is irrelevant, probably not even considered as an afterthought, by this president.
"BP is not a victim here. They're not in the least bit sympathetic. But this is the nation that presumes innocence before guilt, that is founded on the rule of law rather than of men. How strange it is that we elected a president who wants to give terrorist murderers the benefit of the doubt, give them access to legal protections they're not even entitled to, but treats a major international corporation - which had already said it would pay all legitimate claims - the way Al Capone treated a rival moonshine distributor."

Jared Keller at the Atlantic Wire says there was a communication breakdown between Tony Hayward and congressmen who used the word "shakedown" - which means extortion. Mr Keller argues that Hayward must have misunderstood the word given his answer.

Damien Reece says in the Telegraph that this week could mark the end of the beginning for BP:

"It could still all go wrong, especially if the relief wells fail, but Hayward can at least reflect, perhaps to himself this time, that this is not the end, not even the beginning of the end. But it could be the end of the beginning."

More from this blog...

BBC © 2014 The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites. Read more.

This page is best viewed in an up-to-date web browser with style sheets (CSS) enabled. While you will be able to view the content of this page in your current browser, you will not be able to get the full visual experience. Please consider upgrading your browser software or enabling style sheets (CSS) if you are able to do so.